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The Markets Now: Facebook Declines After Downgrades

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Google and Dell rise.

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A higher unemployment rate in January, amidst a contraction of the GDP in the same week, did not bolster investor confidence this morning, bringing stocks lower.

The unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9% in January, adding 157,000 jobs. The measure of unemployment including both job seekers and part -time workers stayed the same at 14.4%.

In other economic news, consumer sentiment is up at 73.8 from 71.3 in mid-January, indicating that consumer confidence is moving back on trend. Consumer sentiment hit the low 80s in October and November.

The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) inched up 0.99% to 13997.27 and the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) rose to 1510.51, up 0.83%. The Nasdaq (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) also moved up to 3165.69, down 0.75%.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) shares rose 1.66% to $767.88 after the company submitted proposals to regulators in an effort to end its investigation by the EU. Several companies, including Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), have complained to the European Union that Google is too dominant in its online search, violating antitrust rules.

HSBC Holdings' (NYSE:HBC) stock declined 0.16% to $56.77 after China approved HSBC's $7.4 billion stake in Ping An Insurance, a Thai company.

Merck's (NYSE:MRK) fourth-quarter net income fell and earnings per share of $0.83 barely beat analyst averages. Merck gave a downbeat profit forecast for 2013, estimating $3.60 to $3.70 in earnings this year. Its stock fell 2.47% to $42.17.

Anheuser-Busch's (NYSE:BUD) bid to buy Grupo Modelo (PINK:GPMCF) for $20 billion is being blocked by the US Department of Justice, which says the deal runs against global antitrust regulations. Its stock rallied, however, 2.81% to $91.09.

Chevron's (NYSE:CVX) rise in fourth-quarter profit pleasantly surprised investors. The company reported net income of $3.70 per share, up from $2.58 per share last year. Shares rose 0.71% to $115.97.

Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) reported robust earnings of $44.9 billion, up 9% from last year. Shares edged down 0.27% to $89.72.

Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) is closer to a deal to sell the company to a buyout consortium involving founder and CEO Michael Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, Reuters reported. Its stock surged 4.31% to $13.81.

Audience Inc. (NASDAQ:ADNC) made a profit in its fourth-quarter earnings as its mobile use increased. That's an improvement from a loss of $5.56 per share a year earlier. Shares rallied 22.43% to $14.96. Audience, which recently went public in May, produces technology to improve sound in phones and filter out unwanted noise.

Generic pharmaceutical company Perrigo Co. (NASDAQ:PRGO) stock rose 6.14% to $106.68 after it posted better than expected earnings at $1.12 a share. Perrigo's 2013 forecast ranged between $5.45 and $5.65 per share. Analysts expect $5.54 a share on average.

Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) announced it will change its name to BlackBerry after its launch of the BB10. Shares moved up 0.77% to $13.08.

Echo Therapeutics (NASDAQ:ECTE) offered 13,333,333 shares of common stock at $0.75 per share. The stock has been down almost 50% in the past year. Its stock plunged 30.21% to $0.81.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) continued to fall Friday morning, declining 1.15% to $420.32.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is still reeling from downgrades yesterday. Its shares fell 2.62% to $30.17. Jeffries downgraded the stock from buy to hold and Citigroup switched from Buy to Neutral.

Commodities futures were mostly up Friday. Crude oil inched up 0.09 to 97.58, and gold increased 11.1 to 1673.1.

No positions in stocks mentioned.
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